Business loan collection scam using the name Michelle Williams
Date First Reported: September 2014
Primary Name Associated: Michelle Williams
Description of Potential Fraud:
Firms in Ontario and Nevada notified us that they received an email from the purported Michelle Williams looking to retain them with regards to a breach of a business loan agreement.
This is a classic bad cheque scam that presents as legal matter requiring the assistance of a lawyer. In this scam lawyers will be duped into wiring real funds from their trust accounts after depositing a fake cheque received as payment from the debtor (who is part of the fraud). See our Confirmed Fraud Page for more of an explanation of how these frauds work and other names associated with it , and our Fraud Fact Sheet for a list the red flags of a bogus legal matter that is really a fraud.
Here is the initial contact email sent
From: michelle williams <[email protected]>
Subject: lawyer needed
My name is michelle Williams and i am in need of legal assistance. I loaned my ex” John Anderson” some money when we were dating to be exact in september 2009.The loan was to be paid back in two years i.e by September 2011, he has repaid part of it. I have contacted him several times about the remaining part of it but he always promises to pay up but has not done so yet. I feel need to file legal charges against him to get the balance of the money am owed. Please i need a lawyer who can help me proceed with this case.
Replying to the email brought this response and fake documentation:
Please find attached a copy of the written loan agreement we had and a copy of my international passport.I had a serious accident in August 2013 and was out of communication with him for a while i now surfer from an illness called dysarthria resulting from the accident which damaged the part of my central nervous system that controls speech so i do most of my talking through typing and i am learning to sign.So calling you will be some what impossible.Please explain the process to me via email.Looking forward to hearing from you.
How to handle a real or suspected fraud
If you have been targeted by any of these frauds, please forward any of the emails and supporting documents that you have received to [email protected]
If you suspect you are acting on a matter that might be a fraud, call LAWPRO at 1-800-410-1013 (416-598-5899). We will talk you through the common fraud scenarios we are seeing and help you spot red flags that may indicate you are being duped. This will help you ask appropriate questions of your client to determine if the matter is legitimate or not. If the matter you are acting on turns out to be a fraud and there is a potential claim, we will work with you to prevent the fraud and minimize potential claims costs.
If you have been successfully duped, please immediately notify LAWPRO as there may be a claim against you. Instructions on how to report a claim are here.
For more immediate updates on fraud and claims prevention, subscribe to the email or RSS feed updates from LAWPRO’s AvoidAClaim blog.
Fraud Fact Sheet More fraud prevention information and resources are available on the practicePRO Fraud page, including the Fraud Fact Sheet, a handy reference for lawyers and law firm staff that describes the common frauds and the red flags that can help identify them.